Don’t tell your mom you’re going to the Okanagan Valley. She might worry that you’ll want to move there for good. Seriously though, once you experience the beauty of the Napa of the North, you might not want to leave!
This part of British Columbia has been compared to California’s wine region for many reasons: the views, the vibe, and most especially, the wine! And the best thing about it is that you don’t need to dig up your passport or buy travel insurance.
Direct flights to Kelowna have resumed, just in time for summer. It has never been easier to vacation in the valley.
If you are planning your first trip to the Okanagan, here’s a list of what you NEED to see!
1. The Gorgeous Beaches
The interior region of B.C. gets a little more sunshine and a lot less rain than the rest of the province, creating the perfect microclimate for winegrowers and you. Okanagan Lake always promises a warm and pleasant swim. You’ll think you’re entering the Pacific Ocean (without those pesky sharks.)
Don’t miss out on living your beach bum life at these sandy spots:
- Three Miles Beach, Penticton (don’t forget your bathing suit… or do! It’s a nude beach.)
- Shaka Beach, Penticton
- Sudbury Beach, Penticton
- Sun-Oka Beach Provincial Park, Summerland
- Boyce-Gyro Beach, Kelowna
- Kal Beach, Vernon
- Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
2. The Vivacious Vineyards
The Okanagan Valley is famous for its award-winning wines and has many regions and grape varieties to discover. You might as well tour a vineyard or two and call yourself a connoisseur! A good place to start is Naramata Road going up from Penticton, where many beautiful wineries dot the banks of Lake Okanagan. The road is accessible by bike, so don’t drink and drive: sip and pedal instead! Most wineries will offer complimentary tastings if you buy a bottle of your favourite wine. Otherwise, it will cost you up to $10 for a few generous swigs.
Here are some of the vineyards worthy of a visit:
- Therapy Vineyards & Inn
- Lang Vineyards
- Moraine Estate Winery
- Bench 1775 Winery
- Red Rooster Winery
- Ruby Blues Winery
If you’re feeling especially fancy in Kelowna, treat yourself to a tour of the Mission Hills Winery. It’s one of the largest and most stately vineyards in the valley, with sweeping views of the lake and an impressive amphitheatre. You’ll want to make reservations and wear your Sunday Best.
3. The Wonderful Hiking Trails
It may not be the Canadian Rockies, but the Okanagan Valley has some great treks for trail-lovers.
Here are some of the best hikes in the area:
- Giant’s Head Loop, Summerland (2.6 km)
- Myra Bellevue Small Loop, Kelowna (5.8 km)
- Lebanon Creek Trail, Kelowna (6.4 km)
- Fintry Provincial Park Loop, Lake Country (4.5 km)
- Mount Boucherie from East Boundary Road, Kelowna (5.6 km)
- Kelowna Waterfront Trail, Kelowna (5.3 km)
- Knox Mountain via Apex Trail, Kelowna (4 km)
- Bear Creek Loop Trail, Kelowna (2.1 km)
4. Free Camping Spots
Maybe you splurged a little on the wine tastings and would like to scale back on spending. Free campsites exist thanks to the iOverlander app. How pretty would it be to wake up at SunRock knowing that the view didn’t cost you a thing? Just make sure to respect your environment and follow “Leave No Trace” camping rules.
With iOverlander, you can even showcase your farmhand skills in exchange for a place to sleep. Pitch your tent on a farm for free, and who knows what friends you’ll make (of the goat variety or otherwise)? There’s no shortage of fruit-picking jobs here!
If this sort of arrangement interests you, be sure to check out how to camp for free or for next to nothing!
You can’t really blame your mom for being afraid you’ll move out west. The Okanagan Valley is like a dream!
Where’s your favourite place to explore in the valley?
This article was originally published in French by Lisa Marie Gaudreault and adapted in English by Britney Claveau.